Firefighters Flex Muscle, Again

You've gotta hand it to 'em. The Providence firefighters know how to flex their political muscle.

In the latest power play in a years-long contract dispute with Mayor David Cicilline, the union has managed to win a boycott of the upcoming US Mayor's Conference from Vice President Joe Biden, Attorney General Eric Holder and other Obama administration officials.

And these are not the first big-time Dems to cower before the union, as Providence Business News notes in a short piece on the curfuffle:

In 2004, then Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards cancelled a fundraising appearance in Providence. Both in 2007 and 2008, Hillary Clinton asked Cicilline, Clinton backer, to stay away from Clinton events because the firefighters union had threatened to picket.

Cicilline also was forced to resign as Clinton’s statewide campaign co-chairman in 2007 because of the labor dispute.

The question is: to what end? Cicilline has not backed down in the past. And he made it quite clear today that he won't cave after this latest display. If anything, the union risks losing public support by keeping Biden et al. at bay. Providence, after all, could use a little shot in the arm.

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